The new heritage craft project will build on the success and on the experience gained from the current phase to create an innovative project using new media and the internet to sell artisan products closely linked to cultural heritage. The partners now know more about how to develop and convert and support artisan businesses and this knowledge ... More...
The new heritage craft project will build on the success and on the experience gained from the current phase to create an innovative project using new media and the internet to sell artisan products closely linked to cultural heritage. The partners now know more about how to develop and convert and support artisan businesses and this knowledge will be applied in the new project to extend the partnership and to expand the network of artisans. With the support of the Canadian organisation, there is every confidence that we can continue to strengthen and expand the European network. The project will select viable craft businesses with a particular focus on creating new jobs for young people and for women, but will have four distinct new core activities: to expand the linkages with the tourism promotion in the partner regions; to introduce innovative web-based sales for the member companies and with this improve communication; thirdly, to improve on-site sales facilities, using Canadian experience, fourthly to combine all the experiences in a business model to be used to maintain the network beyond the end of the project.
The project will use the established Canadian model as this has been thoroughly researched, tested and improved over 20 years. We will use an innovative approach to culture and heritage to showcase traditional crafts as displayed in high-quality artisan products. As the project is gaining confidence we will draw more on indigenous expertise in ethn... More...
The project will use the established Canadian model as this has been thoroughly researched, tested and improved over 20 years. We will use an innovative approach to culture and heritage to showcase traditional crafts as displayed in high-quality artisan products. As the project is gaining confidence we will draw more on indigenous expertise in ethnology, architecture and artisan development and continue to develop this, increasingly using the Canadian expertise as a critical strategic resource.
The project is entirely focused on supporting artisans.
The main Objective will be to use integrated visitor/local sales/e-sales activities to improve chances of survival for selected and badged artisan businesses. The innovative dimension is to do this over the internet with the help of a sound foundation in cultural heritage as seen in the expertise of the Associated Partners and their triple helix context. The plan is to create a far larger market for authentic craft products that are based on cultural heritage. For our carefully badged and quality controlled companies, this should be a powerful extra tool to help them survive. Each company will be selected on a basis on their artisan skills and interest in cultural history as well as for their enthusiasm for sharing the craft and for training young people. We will work to integrate the artisans in regional tourism strategies to take account of plans for stopping points for cruise tourists and coach parties.
The project is an effective and valuable contributor to the support for small artisan companies in their struggle to survive the global economic crisis. These are artisans with unique products, each of which is based on cultural heritage and local values, yet each craft has a transnational appeal in its execution. These crafts people do not compete with low-value imports. They are all capable of being self-sustaining, but only as long as a strong niche profile is established for each. This is where the use of the Internet becomes so crucial and such an innovative tool for artisans located in rural areas, often distant from the main tourist thoroughfares. Only via such an approach can a transnational niche capable of sustaining the individual artisans be created.
It has been interesting to learn that the Canadian model has needed far less adaptation than expected. As the first project starts to see the accelerated pace of conversions and openings of new quality controlled artisan sites, the Interreg project partners will have developed strong interest in the concept from artisans in each region. As the Économusée project closes in March 2011 there will be 17 sites operational. At the time of writing (March 2011), 36 new jobs have already been created by this project and a further 15 jobs are planned; making this a total of 51 new jobs likely to be created by Économusée Northern Europe.
The Craft International project will see the partners achieve the critical mass of artisans in each region for meaningful input into strategy development in the partner regions. The objective is that by 2013, the European network will be strong enough to act as a strong partner in heritage development, craft training and strategic tourism planning.
Some of the issues flagged up for the first project still need to be adhered to:
a) Deploy the innovative Économusée micro model for home crafts producers in remote areas, where the “Change Island” pilot project will be the key to practical networking and new developments and networking in rural areas.
b) An improved inter-regional shared business support system, including education and training in the crafts and business operations, drawing on the triple helix partners to support craft-based product development and design in order to renew company product portfolios.
c) Creating sustainable, long-term skills by involving young people
The new partners will help work towards this critical mass in different ways. In Ireland, where tourism is such a major industry, the potential role of the Canadian model, the Économusée concept, is strengthened by the entry of a new partner and by the potential coordination with the operation in Northern Ireland. In the Swedish partner we see the access to an associated partner with particular strengths in ethnology and heritage. In Norway we now see the entry of new associate partners who have the national remit to safeguard and train for all crafts in their national craft centres. The new associated partners possess skills of particular interest to the innovative side of this project.
The stronger emphasis on web-based sales and area/craft promotion, will help integrate the artisans and will continue to build synergies. The project itself will continue to develop its internet communication and roll this out to all the companies over time.
The combination of website development, tourism strategy integration and improved direct sales techniques will help create extra jobs. The first project aimed to create 18 jobs and has so far created 36 (before completion even) and levered in another €650,000 in actual extra investment capital. This project aims to create 25 new jobs in artisan businesses.
In addition, the project will develop a new group of 21 further artisan businesses, provide them all with new skills and support for the duration of the project. This means that not only will they learn from the combined experience of the entire network, but they will also be able to develop a supported dialogue with other companies, develop joint product ranges for sale both directly and over the internet, and even collaborate in purchasing or marketing. The synergies possible within a well-structured project far outweigh any benefits of operating independently.